Originally posted on Recruiting Daily
Big Data, Small Minds: The Real Math Problem in Recruiting
Every time I hear someone talk about anything involving stupid, specious concepts in recruiting, which is to say pretty much the entire response to that “join the conversation” cliché in our little industry, I get a little nauseous. I’m no etymologist, but I’m pretty sure if you can’t define a buzzword without using another buzzword, it’s complete and utter BS.
There is perhaps no term, other than perhaps the noxious “talent community” concept created by consultants looking for a content niche, that I find more infuriating when it’s thrown out than “big data.” Seriously? Come on, recruiters.
In this industry, where it’s conventional wisdom (at least in third party recruiting) that the number of outgoing phone calls made to candidates (before they’re even qualified, which is the point of said calls) is one of the most crucial predictive indicators of success, this seems to be a pretty silly thing to spend a whole lot of time worrying about.
Hell, for most recruiters, the only mental calculation that most ever do on the job involves figuring out their cut after placing a candidate.
Candidate Experience: Building A Better Benchmark
It’s not like we’ve got the systems in place for “big data,” even if we knew what the heck to do with it. In this industry, most applicant tracking systems let candidates actually be the arbiters of how they found a job and lack the ability to actually track sources of traffic objectively.
Of course, you really only need “referrals,” “Google,” “Search Results Returned From Google” – which includes job boards, aggregators, social networks and every other online platform for recruitment advertising.
The truth is, recruitment marketing is SEO, which you’d probably be better at if you actually knew the first thing about online analytics – which is way more simple than “big data,” and probably more important.
You should know SEO, considering EVERY SINGLE ONE of your candidates ultimately comes from some online source due to compliance and standardized workflows. You should also be able to accurately track where, in the hell, your candidates are really coming from instead of relying on results reported by candidates with no ability to statistically verify self-reporting at scale. But you can’t do that, either.
If you could, you’d focus most of your attention on mobile, shut up about social once and forever (unless it’s focused on engagement and interpersonal interaction as opposed to “employer branding” platforms – barf) and realize that job boards actually work, like, 400% better than social media. And you’d probably get a consumer-grade CRM sooner rather than later, come to think of it. But that’s fodder for another post, entirely.
The point is this: you’ve got to get your head around what matters to know what’s worth measuring. For example, cost per hire is a really important metric. Source of hire is directly tied to this, because, obviously, you get better results investing your money in places that you know, because you have data – this isn’t big data, this is the basics.
Candidate Experience: Doing The Math
We like to put the focus on the new and next in recruiting, but the reason why that seems to be the case is that change in this industry is created by consultants selling services (present company included, and caveat emptor).
So we can talk about predictive analytics and other buzzwords all day, but seriously, if you don’t know how to do the math, than you can’t tie it to the bottom line.
And if you can’t do that, you can’t really make an effective business case for your impact on the overall P/L. Which means you’re seen by finance as basically a money pit, professionally speaking. By being seen as a cost center, recruitment is often the last in, first out, macroeconomic canary in the coal mine.
Which is bullshit, considering the fact that we’re often the only people potential new hires know, and even if there’s a freeze, you lose engagement and relationships with every active candidate and person in that recruiter’s respective pipeline. If people are your greatest asset, to cite another tired cliché, than employers have a funny way of showing their reinvestment in this particular line item.
Candidate Experience: Why Instinct Isn’t Enough
You lose a recruiter – or, in some cases, switch RPOs or contingent contracts, you start from square one. Times for recruiters are really good right now, but apparently, judging from our terrible understanding for analytics – even while we buy stuff that gives us “big data” we don’t know how to benchmark in the first place.
But rather than be prudent and invest in training and developing recruiting functions, for some reason we’re too busy making it rain with stuff like LinkedIn Recruiter licenses that people forget about and automatically renew every month on your company card without much scrutiny.
Hey, forget numbers – recruiting’s all about instinct, right?
The funny thing is, most recruiters actually do think that their expertise lies in being able to read what amount to the “vibes” of a job seeker and back it up with stupid stuff like expensive employer brand campaigns to make sure said seekers dig their vibe. This is about as accurate, in fact, as astrology. By the way, if you’re a Sagittarius, you’re not making many placements this month. Good news for you, Gemini.
If we really did go with our guts, we’d already have candidate experience nailed. We know that treating job seekers like shit is wrong, and at their core, most recruiters not working in bullpens and boiler rooms are good people who actually care about people. They just get a bad wrap, namely through global contingency recruiters working exclusively on commission but with just enough access to a CRM to make things interesting.
Good news, since if you’re a recruiter, you’re more likely to be able to discourse about stuff like history, video games or funny YouTube videos than, say, algebra or even how to actually save your ass through statistical application. Needless to say, there was a time I wish I knew how to do that, but then again, if I were still a Fortune 10 recruiter, I’d not be getting paid to do stuff like write blog posts. Then again, I’d probably have a lot more money and prestige, but there are trade offs.
The thing is, I’m now able to quantify how much I’m worth because, well, I approach things like a marketer. And as a marketer, I realize that candidate experience is user experience, and users are what every single person, no matter what demographic, ultimately is online. Let me reiterate: 100% of your candidates have internet access and rely on it to find jobs.
Similarly, they also use this access (and often, the same search terms) to make purchasing decisions about the products and services that pay your salary. This is why the business value for candidate experience cannot be overstated. But yet, we believe more in voodoo than bottom line impact.
As they say in Creole country, ‘Laissez les bon temps roulez.’
Candidate Experience: The Numbers Are In
Fresh content, by the way, is the firepower behind SEO, which is why sites like CareerBuilder – at their core, all your vendors are technology companies no matter what recruiting category you’d like to conveniently categorize them in – have the reach and data crunching capabilities to actually track stuff like the impact of candidate experience.
And in their latest report, “Candidate Experience and the Evolution of HR Technology,” they asked hundreds of recruiters a wide range of questions to find out what they thought of the candidates they found once they used one of the web’s most prominent job portals, since their traffic (millions of uniques a day beats the pants off your career site, I promise) is a pretty objective cross section of your audience.
Here are 3 of the missing metrics that, to me and any marketer, are mind boggling to me – and something of a mystery as to where, exactly, we’re getting all this big data from in the first place.
25% of companies don’t track source of hire
That’s right. Only 75% of employers responding in the survey even bother to know where the hell their new hires are coming from. That means literally millions of jobs are filled by lucky coincidence – quite literally, in fact, since it’s more or less the same mechanism as falling in love.
You just happen to wander to the right spot in the world at the same time as the perfect match and form an instantaneous attraction.
And trust me, finding that perfect job description for you online releases the same sort of dopamines as any potential partner.
But, you know, that metaphor’s been done to death.
Only 6% of New Hires Come From Social Media
And that’s probably because of the fact that many candidates inevitably think it’s cooler to self-select a tracking code associated with Twitter than, say, Bing.
Nah, never mind – no one uses Bing to search for anything other than the word “Google.”
I don’t have a whole lot to say, other than if you’re like almost every single employer out there, you spend a whole lot more than 6% of your time, at a strategic or even daily execution level, worrying about social media.
You’re also likely spending way more of your budget on social than simply 6%, if you’re like the average enterprise employer.
The only way this number is ever going up is through training your recruiters to do their new jobs as online brand ambassadors and marketers and stop pretending that you’re some specialty in HR – you’re not really fooling anyone but yourselves, you know.
Roughly 1/3 pay more than $5000 a hire, the same percentage as don’t actually know how much they’re paying for recruiting and retention.
The CareerBuilder study showed a shocking 33% of current users, defined in the study’s methodology as those who are employed full-time, work in human resources, current users of vendor-purchased human resource software solutions and not considering an upgrade within the next two years” spend $5,000 or more for the average hire, which is stupidly expensive considering it does not take into account investments like legacy systems, outdated ATS software and lethargic, Byzantine screening process.
Every recruiter in the world (or at least the ones I’ve talked to) complain about getting too many resumes to have time to screen through, but seriously?
If that’s really true, you should be hiring more people to look at resumes, not blowing your wad on some gammification engine that integrates with your ATS that’s not going to do anything but annoy the candidates you’re not calling back.
OK, so not only are the hires many employers making insanely expensive – particularly for exempt positions, assuming this included high volume, high turnover positions that are easy to fill, since it was an aggregate – but a good chunk of us can’t even track how much a hire cost us to make in the first place.
30% – think about that, 3 in 10 employers – responded that “they’re not quite sure of cost per hire.” Really? OK, well, I’m telling you that it’s likely this stat is probably lower than reality, considering the objective administration of a standardized survey versus the subjective and overly superlative self images most recruiters have as a personality trait and professional Achilles heel.
But the fact so many admit they don’t know how much they’re paying means that they don’t even know what they’re worth. I know you’re wondering what any of this has to do with candidate experience, and it should be obvious by now. If you’re not able to measure the value of a candidate, than you’ll never be able to prove your value as a recruiter.
And if you had the data to make more informed decisions – not even big data, maybe byte size pieces, than you’d invest your dollars and your time more wisely. You’d stop doing stupid stuff like showing up at community college career fairs and start making a concerted effort to communicate with candidates, which as my last post in this series suggests, is all they really want.
If you can’t, you’re inevitably going to be one of those candidates, maybe not in today’s booming market, but soon enough, when whatever the next bubble out there bursts over all of us, you’re going to become one of them. Hell, if they’re looking to outsource, it might even come sooner rather than later, because those companies actually know how to reach their target buyer, unlike, say, your recruiters trying to influence an online purchasing decision.
Because when the ax comes down, or the ink on the offshoring sourcing deal is dry, you’re going to have no proof that your salary – or even your function – makes any difference whatsoever. Not even your gut feeling’s going to save you.
When this came across my Feedly reader, it had a picture of a person with a developmental delay as the cover photo with a caption intended to make that person appear proud to be stupid. I cannot understand how you could take a well-written post and then, in what I assume was a misguided attempt to be cute, denigrate an entire category of people by saying that they are stupid. It kills your credibility, alienates your audience, and makes you look like a schoolyard bully. Insulting.
RJ: I meant no offense and obviously I agree with you which is why I had removed that image prior to your commenting on this post. I appreciate your taking the time to read my stuff and thank you for weighing in; sincerely apologize for any unintended insult. I’ll do a better job with my image selection in the future. I admittedly suck at that.
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